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Windows has its 3D Builder software which upon importing an image, converts it to a heightmap of the image, aka turning it to a 3D model that can be saved as an stl.

Does Linux have software with similar properties that takes a black and white image and turning it into a 3D heightmap model?

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  • $\begingroup$ OpenSCAD is linux compatible, free software. There are a number of facilities to permit heightmap to 3D conversion. The results of "lithophane OpenSCAD" returns many options, and it's difficult to narrow down to the "best" choice, as it's a matter of one's skill set/level of understanding. This would be an answer, but I feel it's incomplete without providing results of the search. "Heightmap OpenSCAD" is another useful search set. $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Jun 4, 2021 at 22:24

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The OpenSCAD surface function will do this. You can feed it a greyscale image or a textfile containing a matrix. Documentation and examples can be found at https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/OpenSCAD_User_Manual/Other_Language_Features#Surface

OpenSCAD is a cross platform free open source cad package.

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Cura will import a picture and use it as a heightmap to build a 3d object.enter image description here

There are a few options available when importing :enter image description here

You can even export back the data as STL if you need to process the mesh. Here is the mesh exported in STL, opened in SideFX Houdini: enter image description here

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FreeCAD can import JPG (and IIRC TIFF and PNG as well) image files and produce a lithophane type height-map based on the brightness of each pixel. I'd be rather surprised if other 3D CAD software aimed at the 3D printing user base couldn't do the same. Most of the common free-to-use 3D CAD packages have Linux versions; FreeCAD certainly does (I use it on Kubuntu 20.04, and it should work on any recent version of any flavor of Debian-based Linux, if your hardware meets it requirements).

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